Dissidents of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) keep up the pressure on chairman Pashupati Shumsher Rana to hold a special convention. On June 9, they walked out of the central committee meeting in protest against its decision to form a seven-member committee,

with three members from either side, to verify, within 15 days, the signatures of 527 convention representatives. Demanding an outright announcement of a date, Padma Sundar Lawoti, the party’s vice chairman and dissident leader, announced the following day the group’s own schedule for July 13 and 14, even if the party leadership failed to hold the convention. However, signature verification is necessary.

The problem with the RPP is that, since its birth, it has acted more like a heterogeneous grouping of local chieftains holding sway over their respective areas. In the multiparty system restored in 1990, former Panchas, who had acted in an individual capacity during the 30 years of Panchayat, had to save their political future, and there was no way other than to form a party, and the RPP was born. But they have been unable to develop a party culture. What dominates their present row, like almost all feuds during the past 15 years, is not any important ideological or policy issue, but personal egos and interests, old rivalries, and other unworthy reasons.

Though multiparty system is inoperative at present, it will have to come into full swing sooner rather than later. And too many party splits are not good for the system. Surya Bahadur Thapa and others recently broke away from the RPP to form the Rastriya Janashakti Party. The present squabble might result in another. Then the role of the RPP, which commanded five per cent seats in the dissolved Lower House, may diminish further. Moreover, perhaps being a party of former (anti-multiparty) Panchayat workers, the RPP has never taken to the streets for the cause of democracy. It is not a constituent of the seven-party alliance. These may work to its disadvantage when democracy is finally restored. As it is not founded on certain solid principles and ideology like the CPN-UML and the Nepali Congress, a question arises as to what will happen to the RPP when most of its local chieftains fade away from the scene.